One quarter of the world's cartilaginous fish, namely sharks and rays, face extinction within the next few decades, according to the first study to systematically and globally assess their fate.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) Shark Specialist Group (SSG), co-chaired by Nick Dulvy, a Simon Fraser University (SFU) Canada Research Chair in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation in British Columbia, conducted the study.
It was published in eLife journal today.
Previous studies have documented local overfishing of some populations of sharks and rays. But this is the first one to survey their status through out coastal seas and oceans. It reveals that one-quarter (249) of 1,041 known shark, ray and chimaera species globally fall under three threatened categories on the IUCN Red List.
"We now know that many species of sharks and rays, not just the charismatic white sharks, face extinction across the ice-free seas of the world," says Dulvy. "There are no real sanctuaries for sharks where they are safe from overfishing."
Over two decades, the authors applied the IUCN's Red List categories and criteria to the 1,041 species at 17 workshops involving more than 300 experts. They incorporated all available information on distribution, catch, abundance, population trends, habitat use, life histories, threats and conservation measures.
Sharks and rays are at substantially higher risk of extinction than many other animals and have the lowest percentage of species considered safe. Using the IUCN Red List, the authors classified 107 species of rays (including skates) and 74 species of sharks as threatened. Just 23 percent of species were labeled as being Least Concern.
The authors identified two main hotspots for shark and ray depletionthe Indo-Pacific (particularly the Gulf of Thailand), the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
"In the most peril are the largest spe
|Contact: Carol Thorbes|
Simon Fraser University